A 75-year-old Slovenian Christmas tree - the Kočevje spruce - was erected in the Vatican

A 75-year-old Slovenian Christmas tree - the Kočevje spruce - was erected in the Vatican

On the square of St. Peter in the Vatican erected 30 meters high, 75 years old and 7 tons of heavy spruce from the forests of Kočevje

This occurred following a decision of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and in agreement with the Holy See. It will be decorated with handmade Slovenian ethnographic ornaments. The installation of the Christmas tree and accompanying promotional events will be an excellent promotion of Slovenia, especially in the light of Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021. The project is led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. The opening ceremony will take place at the Vatican on December 11, 2020.

The project was presented at a press conference by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, dr. Jože Podgoršek, Director of the Government Communication Office mag. Uroš Urbanija, ethnologist prof. dr. Janez Bogataj, florist dr. Sabina Šegula and screenwriter Igor Pirkovič. A short presentation film was also shown at the press conference.

Director of the Government Communication Office Uroš Urbanija emphasized that the installation of the Christmas tree is an excellent opportunity for Slovenia's recognition in the world, for presenting Slovenia as a green country, and a symbolic sign of strong diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Slovenia. With the beginning of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence in December 2020 and during 2021, this is also a kind of opening event. It is also one of the international projects that strengthen Slovenia's visibility in the light of Slovenia's forthcoming presidency of the Council of the EU. He pointed out that Slovenia has this honor for the second time, the first time in 1996.

Slovenia has also provided 42 small spruces and firs, from one and a half meters to 6 meters high, which are already in the Vatican, for the decoration of the Holy See. Smaller ornamental trees will be placed in the official premises. Slovenia will also decorate the Vatican with Advent wreaths.

Minister Jože Podgoršek pointed out that the forest in Slovenia is a symbol of the country's recognition. In his opinion, Slovenia ensures sustainable and optimal functioning of the forest as an ecosystem, habitats of plants and animals and their habitats, as well as sustainable use and management of resources through sustainable, sustainable and multifunctional management. He said that the Slovenian forestry school is based on one of the most sustainable approaches to forest management. Christmas trees from Kočevje forests, which have an FSC certificate for sustainable forest management, are therefore a symbol of the qualities of Slovenian forests and forestry.

He also presented in more detail the measured dimensions of the spruce: it is 30 m high, 75 years old, weighs 7 tons, volume 5,33 m3, with a diameter of 67 cm. The indigenous spruce Christmas tree, as well as other smaller spruce and fir trees, are also FSC certified. The project of preparation and transport of Christmas trees is financed from the Forest Fund, which is intended, among other things, for the promotion of forests and forestry and the use of wood and wood products and forest-wood chains.

In addition to the green message, the Kočevje spruce also brought the ethnological Slovene tradition to the world. An exceptional connoisseur of Slovene ethnographic heritage, dr., Helped to decide which decoration is the most Slovene and therefore the most appropriate. Janez Bogataj, who presented the ornament - a six-leaf clover. This is one of the basic elements used in Slovenian cultural heritage. It was most often used as an ornament and symbol on house beams, on door leaves, on the sides of chests, etc. The decoration is made of wood, which is also associated with Slovenian people. In addition to the repatic stars with a six-leaf star, the spruce will be adorned with a few six-leaf stars themselves.

Sabina Šegula, a florist who, together with Peter Ribič, a well-known horticultural expert, has been decorating the Vatican for many years at Easter and Christmas, said that the red thread of the decorations was intergenerational cooperation. The making of the ornaments took place mainly after workshops she led herself. The outdoor spruces that will adorn the Vatican City will be decorated with straw ornaments, and the indoor trees will be decorated with wooden pebbles. The motifs for the decorations were designed by dr. Sabina Šegula, with the exception of the angel motif made of straw.

Like the hexagonal-shaped ornaments, the ornaments on the smaller spruces carry a special symbolism. Straw angels are our protectors against evil. Straw snowflakes represent the snowy forested landscape of Slovenia, as well as the peace and purity of spirit that we associate with Christmas time. Due to their unique shape, they are also a symbol of divine beauty. In addition to being a symbol of purity, they are also a symbol of the beginning of a new life. Just as they dissolve in water, so do people transform at Christmas time.

A real snow crystal is built like a six-pointed (hexagonal) star. It is associated with the motif of decoration on a large spruce. The decoration made of wooden shavings is also interesting. The flower from the five loops - together we can - speaks of connecting the 5 continents. A circle with small inserted scrolls about safety in the embrace of the family. An asymmetrical heart that each individual is different and that each of them can show their love for their fellow human beings in their own unique way. The stylized bird is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, a symbol of freedom.

As we are in a time of severe epidemiological crisis, this year the cultural program will not take place on the Square of St. Peter in the Vatican, but was filmed in the studio of RTV Slovenia. On December 11, it will be shown on the big screen in the market. The script for it was written by Igor Pirkovič. The best Slovenian musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, perform in the cultural program. In the Vatican, the solemn day will begin with a Mass for the Homeland, an audience with Pope Francis and continue in the afternoon with a cultural program and the presence of high-ranking guests. No major bilateral meetings have been announced so far.

At the end of the press conference, Director Uroš Urbanija also thanked all participants, and especially thanked the Ambassador to the Vatican, Jakob Štunf. Interestingly, he added that the decorations that will adorn the large Christmas tree in the Vatican will be used in Strasbourg next year.

Source: SŠK

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